January 17, 2022

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Fauci hearing – live: Doctor calls Senator Marshall ‘moron’ on hot mic and says Rand Paul ‘kindles crazies’

Fauci heard calling Roger Marshall ‘a moron’ after heated exchange

The top coronavirus experts in the Biden administration have testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, were questioned by lawmakers about the federal response to new variants of Covid-19.

The hearing comes as health policymakers say they believe the administration needs an urgent reset in the way it is approaching the new realities of the pandemic.

Dr Fauci is the target of a video released on Monday evening by Project Veritas claiming that he was involved in research projects related to coronaviruses by the Wuhan Institute of Virology that were deemed too risky by the Department of Defense, emails cited by the group claim.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Dr Fauci angrily dismissed personal attacks on him by right-wing lawmakers, including those related to the emails.

Key points

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Study finds Omicron causes less severe illness, shorter hospital stays

A new study on 70,000 patients in California has found that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus diseases causes less severe illness and shorter hospital stays.

“It’s truly a viral factor that accounts for reduced severity,” said author of the study Joseph Lewnard, epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley to The New York Times.

The study, which has not yet been published in a scientific journal was conducted by analysing electronic health care records maintained by Kaiser Permanente of Southern California, which serves 4.7 million people.

69,279 symptomatic patients who tested positive for the coronavirus between 30 November and 1 January were analysed for the study.

While three-quarters of the samples contained the Omicron variant, the rest were Delta.

The study found that Omicron was half as likely to send patients to hospitals in comparison to Delta and other variants.

The variant also cut hospital stays by 70 per cent compared to the Delta variant by reducing the number of days in the hospital by more than three days.

The study also found that vaccinated people were 64 per cent to 73 percent less likely to be hospitalized than those who are unvaccinated.

My colleague Nathan Place reports on how Omicron cases have overwhelmed hospitals in early hit cities across US

Sravasti Dasgupta12 January 2022 07:00

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Rapid tests not included in US’ total count, says CDC director

Rapid tests are not being included in the total count of coronavirus cases in the US, the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the senate hearing on the Biden administration’s preparedness and response to new Covid-19 variants, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “We have been using the PCR test — not the rapid test — the lab tests, the molecular tests, to really capture our case counts and really get a good view of where we are in terms of the epidemiology, anticipating what was going to be coming into the hospitals.”

Dr Walensky added that the tests remain important for those infected to isolate themselves immediately, especially if they are asymptomatic.

“I think that it’s less about the absolute case count of understanding whether you have asymptomatic infection, or a runny nose and your rapid test is positive than it is really about empowering you to do the right thing and not be forward-transmitting.”

“The self-tests are a really important, valuable tool for people to empower themselves, their own health, to not expose themselves to other people, to get some information about their own health,” she added.

A rapid COVID-19 test is taken, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Sravasti Dasgupta12 January 2022 06:43

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Omicron will find just about everybody, Dr Fauci says

The US’s top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that “just about everybody” will ultimately be infected by the Omicron variant of Covid, and that those who are vaccinated will fare better in fighting off the disease.

Speaking to J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Dr Fauci said, “Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.”

“Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalisation and death,” he added.

In contrast, those who are not vaccinated “are going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this,” he said.

Dr Fauci said that the country “may be on the threshold” of a new phase of the pandemic where there’s “enough protection in the community and drugs to easily treat severe Covid-19”.

Dr Fauci’s comments came after a Senate hearing earlier on Tuesday on the Biden administration’s response to new variants of Covid-19.

Dr Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, testifies at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on 11 January 2022 in Washington, DC

(Getty Images)

Sravasti Dasgupta12 January 2022 05:32

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United Airlines CEO says vaccine mandate ended weekly staff deaths

The CEO of United Airlines has told his staff in an open letter that the company’s vaccine mandate has ended the “weekly” deaths that previously plagued the organisation.

There are still 3,000 United employees who are infected with the virus, but Scott Kirby told his staff that “zero of our vaccinated employees are currently hospitalised”.

“Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from Covid,” Mr Kirby wrote.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 04:45

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Fauci shows his teeth

But why didn’t he sooner, asks Andrew Buncombe.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 03:45

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Testy exchange over Fauci’s financial disclosure forms

NIAID director Dr Anthony Fauci was heard mocking a Republican senator at Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions after the senator in question sparred with Mr Fauci regarding whether his financial disclosure was publicly available.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 02:45

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Urgent need for super vaccine to fight new variants

Dr Anthony Fauci warned at a Senate committee hearing that the US faced an “urgent need” for a so-called super vaccine that would be more effective at preventing new variants of Covid-19 and other coronaviruses.

John Bowden and Megan Sheets report.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 01:45

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Experts warn people they are ‘playing with dynamite’ by deliberately getting Covid

Doctors across the US have said there is a dangerous trend of people deliberately trying to get Omicron ‘to get it over with’.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 00:45

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Fauci: ‘You are distorting everything about me’

Dr Fauci tore into Senator Rand Paul for using the pandemic for political gain in his personal attacks against him during today’s hearing.

Megan Sheets and John Bowden report.

Oliver O’Connell12 January 2022 00:01

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HHS spokesperson stands by Fauci

Mr Sams, the Covid spokesperson at the Department of Health and Humans Services, calls out Senator Rand Paul’s “non-stop lies”.

Oliver O’Connell11 January 2022 23:45

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